The Yellow Wallpaper

Creeping in Daylight College

People lose their sanity through many processes. It has become an art. In her short story, “The Yellow Wallpaper,” Charlotte Perkins Gilman uses the stealthy approach of insanity as a medium to advance arguments of feministic roots. Her (mostly autobiographical) protagonist, Jane, is a housewife leading a life of quiet desperation and dissatisfaction, controlled and micromanaged by her patriarchal husband John, and sent to a prison-like mansion for neurasthenia recuperation. During her stay, she gradually develops a sense of self, which Gilman shows as attainable only through overcoming masculine/societal repression in life and marriage, maintaining healthy self-expression through meaningful work, and fostering self-actualization through independence and freedom. Gilman presents a scathing report of the social structures of her day as well as a personal criticism of her own failed prescription.

Dominated and run by the men in her life, Jane begins the novel in a naïve tone, assuming all is for the best and vocally accepting her situation. At one point, she lists her personal beliefs, yet within the space of one line, waves off their significance—“But what is one to do (93)?” Her prescription is one of curtailed creative...

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